I’ve spent the better part of the day trying to decide what I wanted to say about the tragedies in New York, the District of Columbia and Pennsylvania. In some cases, words are not enough to accurately describe the full scope of what one wants to say. Sadly, this is one of those occasions.

The day, for me, started with a phone call from my Jess’ mom. She knows that I have family and friends in the D.C. and N.Y. areas and wanted to ascertain whether I was aware of what happened and ask if I knew if those people were all right. After her call, I got up and searched the Internet for news… like millions of others. I didn’t think about it at the time, but the problems that I was having accessing the news sites were due to the increased traffic that the events had caused. I turned on the television and watched as the surreal nightmare unfolded.

Then I started making phone calls. I called my father, in Maryland, to check family members there – they were fine. One of my sisters was supposed to go D.C. this morning, but wound up oversleeping. It may sound silly, but I am grateful for that. I called my mother, in North Carolina, to see if she had heard about the crashes in N.Y. My uncle, her brother, lives about a half-hour from N.Y.C., and I wondered if she had heard from him. She hadn’t heard anything about the attacks – she is a teacher and was in the middle of a class at the time. I gave her a quick rundown of the events and told her that I would try to get in touch with my uncle. I also told her that either he or I would call her back to let her know that everything was all right. I got a couple of calls through to New York, but did not wind up getting through to my uncle until 6:30 pm MDT; he was fine. My stepsister, who works in D.C., was also fine – it turns out that she did not have to go in to her office today. Yet more to be thankful about.

At work, the shock of the morning’s events was almost palpable. In the nearly three years that I have worked in the Salt Lake City REC, today was the most quiet that I have heard it during standard working hours. Most of my co-workers know that I am from the Maryland/D.C. area and a few of them asked if anyone in my family had been affected; I explained that I did have family in those areas, but that they were all fine, as far as I knew. I also rediscovered an odd “fact:” People here are a somewhat “geographically impaired” about the relative sizes and locations of states on the eastern half of the country. Conversely, I know many people at home who know VERY LITTLE (translation: “almost nothing”) about the western states. I had to explain to some people where my family lives relative to the crashes. It kept reminding me of lyrics from the song “Territories,” by Rush: “We all figure that our homes are set above other people than the ones we know and love.” Odd, but true.

On a personal level, trying to grasp the events of the day was like trying to grab smoke. I could “understand” what had happened logically, but the emotional components were… ethereal and elusive. I didn’t really figure out what was bothering me – aside from the wanton destruction and loss of life – until I was on the way home: I kept remembering my visit to N.Y. and trip to the World Trade Center (WTC) two years ago. Then-girlfriend Peggy and I had gone to N.Y. to visit a couple of friends and my uncle. One of the highlights of the trip was going to the WTC. My friend, Joe, and I took my girlfriend into the plaza between to Towers 1 and 2, with her eyes closed, and then let her see just how tall the buildings were. Her reaction was priceless – worth the entire trip, in itself. We also went to the observation level and the roof and looked out over the city. It was an AMAZING view. Joe told us how the original bombing attempt at WTC, in 1993, had been planned: The idea was to topple WTC 1 into WTC 2 and have the buildings fall across Manhattan. Looking down to street level, I shuddered to think of the utter chaos that would have caused. Here are some pictures of that trip:

Me on WTC 2

Me again

Joe’s pictures (then and now)

Today, I recalled all of those thoughts and feelings and watched as the twin towers collapsed in heaps of steel, glass, wire and rubble.

Today, I thought about the fact that I will not be able to share that amazing and awe-inspiring view with my future children or grandchildren. I can’t even share it with Jess.

Today, I knew that the classic New York City skyline would never be the same again.

Today, I realized how poignant the adage “There, but for the grace of God, go I…” truly is: If this had happened two years ago, I would have been one of the people in the middle of that maelstrom.

Today, I was sad. And angry. And confused. And numb.

My thoughts and prayers go out to the families and friends of all of those lost in this senseless act. I ask that you remember these people in your thoughts and prayers, as well. Hopefully, we will see the responsible parties brought to justice and we will find a fitting way to honor the memories of the deceased.